Day 2.5 In
Written by: Alex Sandell
June 20th and
1/2, 1998. Day number 2.5.
7:55 AM: Ten-million excuses run through my mind as the first two people exit the elevator. "I was trying to find you." "I was going to the soda machine." "I was sleep-walking." A little girl follows the two adults out, and the elevator is left empty. No Miss C. Heart. Where is she? Was I just imagining the voice? "Can we go swimming, daddy?" The little girl asks. When she talks, it sounds identical to Miss C. Heart's squeaky, "carbonated for corporate inspection" voice. I'm safe, for the moment. I watch the little girl skip down the hall in a cheery manner similar to a real life Pollyanna. I'm extremely tempted to run up to her parents and warn them to keep their innocent girl away from anything even vaguely resembling a powersuit.
7:56 AM: I reopen the elevator doors and step inside. I press the button with the numeral "one" on it, and begin my decent. I try to breathe in through my nose, and out through my mouth as I get closer and closer to what could be a narrow escape, or swift demise. I reach floor # 1, and the doors open. I step outside. Miss C. Heart isn't in sight.
8:00 AM: I walk through the never-ending lobby. Past the continental breakfast. This is when I see her. She's chatting it up with a man in a suit, as she grabs herself a yogurt. I turn my head the other way, cross my fingers, and slink past her as fast as I can. I can see my friend's car waiting outside. Only 30 more feet. I look back and see Miss C. Heart is still engaged in her flirting. The man beside her is obviously taking the bait. The automatic doors fly open, I step into the sun, jump into the car, and am free!
8:01 AM: "Why are you sweating?" my friend Dave asks. "Don't worry about it, just go," I return. "Wanna grab some breakfast, or something?" I pause before answering. "No, just bring me to my grandma's house. I'm gonna try to catch a little sleep there." "Had fun last night, I take it?" Dave returns with a sly grin on his face. "Something like that," I say. I'm not doing any grinning.
8:35 AM: We arrive at my grandmother's house. I pay Dave ten bucks for gas, and hop out of the car. I walk into the porch. My grandma is already sitting there. "Alex!" she yells. "This is a surprise!" "Would you mind if I use your extra bed, and take a nap?" I ask. "No, no, not a problem," she says. I drop my luggage on the floor and breathe the first sigh of relief that I've let out in what seems like days. My grandma smiles. "It's been a long time," she says, while holding out her arms, "won't you come sit on my lap?" Your grandmother's house is the one place where you're always seven years old. I give her a hug, and take a seat beside her.
8:43 AM: "Let's chit-chat a bit, shall we?" She asks. I force out an "okay" and begin telling her how tired I am, and that we can't talk for long. She asks me why I can never sleep. I remind her of the construction workers and carpenters by my place who are nailing and sawing all day. "Why don't you ever sleep during the night, like a normal person?" She asks. "I'm writing updates at night," I tell her. She doesn't know what an "update" is. I explain (for what's probably the hundredth time) that it's an addition to my webpage. She asks if a "webpage" is some kind of book. I tell her it's on the Internet. The word "Internet" vaguely rings a bell. "That damn Internet," she proclaims, "nothing but perverts and sluts."
9:00 AM: My grandma decides I need a hobby to help me sleep. "You need a hobby to help you sleep," she says. I remind her that I have a hobby. "What?" she asks. I mention, once again, that I write. I'm on the computer for hours a day. She blurts out a firm, "no, no . . . you need a real hobby." I just keep my mouth shut. I know what's about to come. She's going to tell me about my grandpa playing chess. She'll decide that isn't the right hobby for me, though. She'll then tell me I look like a Gardner. At this point I'll be reminded that she has a garden . . . My thoughts are interrupted. "Your grandpa used to solve math problems and play chess." She pauses, deep in thought. "That isn't the right hobby for you, though. You look more like a Gardner! Have you ever gardened?" "That damn gardening," I proclaim, "nothing but fruits and vegetables." This goes over her head. "I'm going to take you out, right now, and show you how to garden." "Um, I'm really tired," I remind her. "Phooey," she says, while patting me on the shoulder, "a little sun will wake you up!"
9:11 AM: We arrive at my grandma's oversized garden. Every year she plants it, and about 90% of what she grows just gets thrown out. People tell her it needs to be smaller, but she'll have "none of that." I guess, when it comes to gardens, size does matter.
9:12 AM: I notice my grandma going down on her hands and knees. "Come down here with me," she yells. Now this is a bit sick. I feel like I'm back with Miss C. Heart, 50 years later. I get a safe distance from anything resembling incest, and throw myself down into the dirt. My grandma pats me on the back, and gets ready for another "back in the good 'ol days" speech.
9:14 AM: "Now," she says, "what you're going to do is what us people from the good 'ol days called 'hard labor'." I roll my eyes. "What do I do?" I ask. "It's nothing like all this confounded technology you kids have these days. It's really simple. Whenever you see a weed, you pull it." I nearly tell her that sounds "kinky," but know the joke would fly straight over her head. She pulls a few weeds for an example, and prods me to do the same. As I start pulling, she stands up and walks away. "Where are you going?" I ask. "It's time for me to take a little nap. Wake me up when you're through." I look at the garden, and realize that won't be for a while.
1:14 PM: I wake my grandma up. "Done already?!?" she asks. "You're a natural!" Little does she know I accidentally pulled out about 70% of her baby carrots. I figure that will still give her 20% more than she'll ever use.
1:17 PM: My grandma gets a huge smile on her face, as she walks to her purse. "Now, in the good 'ol days, when we worked hard, we got rewarded," she says while reaching into her wallet, "here's five-dollars." "Thanks," I say, feigning enthusiasm. "I bet you'll sleep like a baby, tonight," she tells me. "Um . . . actually I was gonna try and get a little sleep right now." Grandma looks confused. "In the middle of the day?" she asks. "Never! We've got to go for our walk!" I stifle my groan. My grandma continues. "Glenwood Park just added a new walking trail, and you can't get sunnier out than it is now!"
1:30 PM: We're driving off to Glenwood Park for "our" stroll. I always think it's weird when people drive to a place so they can walk. It's sort of like wheeling yourself in a chair, to go sit on the toilet.
1:43 PM: We walk the trails of the almighty Glenwood Park. "Isn't it beautiful here?" my grandma half asks/half tells. "Remember when you used to beg grandpa and I to take you here, back when you were a kid?" I'm too caught up in my thoughts, to answer her question. "I heard someone was murdered here two weeks ago," is what I end up saying. My grandma nearly falls over. "That was just a rumor. Those crazy news programs just want to wreck everything good nowadays. No one's ever been murdered in Glenwood Park."
2:03 PM: We finally hit the new walking trail. It's basically a water fountain and bench. "Uh," I ask, "where's the trail?" "This is it," my grandmother says through childlike giggles. "Isn't it nice? Let's take a little rest."
2:04 PM: We sit on the park bench. Both of us are silent for a few minutes, until my grandma speaks up. "Did you sleep well last night?" "No," I say, "only about two hours." "What you need is a good hobby," she tells me. "I was thinking about trying gardening," I return. My grandmother smiles. "Why, that's a great idea! I couldn't have came up with a better idea, myself!"
2:17 PM: Well, there was my good deed for the month.
2:18 PM: We get up and finish our circular walk back to the car.
2:30 PM: My grandma is too "pooped" to drive. She hands me the keys. "I don't have my license back yet," I tell her. "My epilepsy doctor is being a real jerk about it." My grandma itches her chin for a moment, before speaking. "That epilepsy. I think it's all just made up." She gets into the driver's seat, and takes off.
2:38 PM: My grandma, driving twice her normal speed of 15 MPH, presumably out of anger with me over my "made up" disorder, tears into the driveway and steps out of the car. "Epilepsy," she says, "it's all in your head." Another car pulls up. "Now I wonder who that is?" my grandma asks. It's my brother and my other brother! They want to know if I would like to go with them and see "Mulan". I think of all the evil Disney performs in the name of profit. How many terrible things I've found out about them, researching articles for my site. I remember how I was thinking about boycotting the company forever, and then say "sure."
2:41 PM: I give a "goodbye" to my grandma. She asks for a hug. "I love you," she tells me, as she squeezes me tight. "I love you, too," I reply. That's the thing about a grandparent. They may drive you nuts, but you just gotta love 'em for it.
2:53 PM: We arrive at the movie theater to see "Mulan". The 3:00 PM showing is sold out. We decide to wait around for the 4 'O Clock.
2:55 PM-3:53 PM: I've never played so much "Asteroids" in my life.
3:55 PM: We sit down in a theater full of the three of us, a bunch of overly-tense parents, and their noisy kids. I realize that most of the parents are my age. How depressing.
4:00 PM: The previews start. There's one about a big monkey.
4:23 PM: The actual movie begins.
5:00 PM: Even though the movie is really good, I can't help imaging all the characters as small plastic toys in a "Happy Meal", throughout the whole thing. I then start thinking of the inevitable "made for video" sequels. "Mulan II: Real Men Wear Drag". After Mulan's heroic rescue of the Chinese empire, China will only accept females in the army. Since Mulan secretly knows any real battle is won by teamwork, she recruits all of her old buddies from the last war. Only, this time, they're the ones forced to crossdress. "The Disney Afternoon" will never be the same.
5:53 PM: Mulan ends. The whole theater seems to love it, including my brother and my other brother. Shit. Disney's got another goldmine on their hands. I hate when that happens.
6:00 PM: As we're driving back to my grandma's house, I get this all-encompassing sense of guilt over leaving Miss C. Heart alone in the motel. I mean, sure she represents every lowdown characteristic that I hate in a human, but she's still a person, and I've abandoned her to fend for herself in a foreign location filled with gigantic malls and 10,000 lakes. I decide that upon arrival at my grandmother's I will call, apologize, and brave the storm. If Mulan could do it then, damnit, so can I!
6:23 PM: I thank my brother and my other brother for the lift, and go inside. My grandma is already sleeping. It must have been all that "napping-while-her-grandson-picked-weeds" that she did earlier. I call Amerisuites and have Miss C. Heart's room paged. The phone is busy.
6:24 PM: I pace around the kitchen.
6:37 PM: I call again. The room is still busy. I begin getting nervous. Did she really succeed in seducing Yogurt man into her bed of ice? Is she busy finding another notch for her bedpost through her notepad computer and mini-modem? I call the front desk (for my third time) and ask if they can break into her line. They say "no." I ask if they could go to her room and leave a message, they say "no." I ask if they ever say "yes" to anything, they say "yes." There's got to be an update hidden somewhere in that.
6:43 PM: I realize I haven't eaten all day. There's nothing in the freezer or fridge. At least nothing saturated with fat. This sucks. I end up eating oatmeal and graham-crackers. I feel like a prisoner of my own mistakes; locked inside a kitchen with snotty operators, and a busy phone.
7:27 PM: I call and have Miss C. Heart paged again. By this time the desk lady is getting very upset. "She may just have the phone off the hook, sir." "Well," I respond, "if you went and knocked on the door, we'd know now, wouldn't we?" I'm transferred to Miss C. Heart's room, without a reply. Her phone is still busy.
7:33 PM: I watch T.V.. The critic who's on says he loved "Mulan". Damn Disney. Why do they have to go and put out a good cartoon, just when their animated division was ready to fall?
8:47 PM: I realize I actually fell asleep for a little while. It's a miracle.
9:00 PM: I call back the motel. This time I try to conceal who I am by changing my voice to sound like a businessman. "Yes, would a Miss C. Heart be checked in, by any chance?" I ask with my rough interpretation of what rich people sound like. The desk lady doesn't buy it. "I would think you would know that by this point, sir. Would you like me to page her room, again?" "If you would," I say, unable to break free from the "business" voice. The line is still busy. This is starting to totally suck. Didn't I already do my good deed for the month?
9:23 PM: I eat some more graham-crackers.
9:30 PM: I call up a friend and talk a little. I can't really think of anything to say. It's a very odd sensation.
10:00 PM: I call Miss C. Heart's room one final time. "This is the last time I'll bother you," I tell the desk lady. I can just hear the "I hope so" in her "it's no problem, really" response. Surprise, surprise - it's busy. Ripping the heart out of a newly found victim couldn't take this long. She must be online.
10:07 PM: I pace around the kitchen some more.
10:08 PM: The phone gets more and more tempting. My hands start to shake. After trying this hard to reach her, I don't want to fail, do I? I rush to the phone, and pick up the receiver.
10:09 PM: I have Miss C. Heart paged again. The desk lady never believed that "this is the last time I'll bother you" line, anyway, did she? The phone rings.
10:10 PM: "WHAT?!?" is how Miss C. Heart answers the phone. "Um," I grasp for breath, and try to think hard about what Mulan went through to save her country from that big strong guy with the eagle, "I'm sorry for just leaving like that." Miss C. Heart is silent for a minute, before the loss of control, begins. "I don't give a shit," she yells. "Weren't you uncomfortable?" I ask. "No." Miss C. Heart replies. "I'm used to motels. I just went on the 'net and talked with some real friends." Ouch. "Didn't you miss me," I mumble. "No," is Miss C. Heart's response. "Not at all?" I ask. "Maybe for five minutes. Then I just realized you were an asshole." I look at my feet. Now it's gotten personal. I hate when that happens. "Well," I kick in my last attempt at what was once thought to have been a good deed, "I just thought you probably felt scared or bad, so if you want some company, I'll come back. We can hang out, watch a movie, or whatever." Miss C. Heart is silent, once again. "If you leave on me," she begins, " I'll crush you." "Are you saying you want me out there?" I ask. "Get in a fucking taxi and come here, already." My heart sinks. I hate taxis. Although, I always secretly wish I'd get a spot on "Taxicab Confessions". "Okay," I say, hoping a hidden-camera will be in my taxi, "I'll call right away." Miss C. Heart hangs up, and I call a cab. Fifteen minutes later, it's sitting in my grandmother's driveway.
10:45 PM: I get inside. The driver immediately starts talking politics. His opinions nearly mirror mine. What if this is a setup? Miss C. Heart sounded pretty pissed. Then again, it was ME who called the cab. I'm just being paranoid. I hope.
11:45 PM: After missing about 10 of the exits I kept pointing the driver toward, I arrive at the motel. The fare comes to $32.50. I only have $23.00. He lets it slide. I generally seem to like people like me.
11:49 PM: I begin my journey toward Miss C. Heart's motel room. With every step my heart thuds louder. With every creak of the floor, ice machine turning on, or laughter behind me, I jump. Maybe I am being paranoid, but she didn't sound exactly happy to hear from me.
11:52 PM: I arrive at floor number four. I begin slowly walking down the long, long hallway. My heart is coming out of my chest. That will make it easier for her to add to the collection
11:53 PM: I stand outside the room. The "Do not disturb" sign is hanging over the handle. Is this for me? I wonder if I should take its advice.
11:57 PM: After staring long enough "Do not disturb" turns into "I'm really disturbed". I see shadows moving back and forth under the door. She's pacing. I hear her mumbling to herself. "Tea crate. Tea crate. Tea crate." Tea crate? It must be Canadian. She talks to herself louder. "He's LATE!" I can't even swallow. All the liquid in my body is exiting through my palms. I finally knock on the door. Her pacing stops.
11:59 PM: It takes her at least 30 seconds to answer my knock. Finally, the door slowly opens. Miss C. Heart stands before me. A very enraged Miss C. Heart. Her right hand is raised up in the air. It's holding her laptop computer. Before I can even flinch, I see it rapidly flying toward my forehead.
Go to day 3
©1998 Alex Sandell [all rights reserved]. If you use this without permission from the author, you'll be forced to garden for my grandma for the next seven years.
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